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care, immigration, transnational, women, technology


This case study of fifty women immigrants in Washington state focuses on the ingenious emotional strategies they engaged in with their left-behind families to care at a distance and the problematic ways the information and communication technology (ICTs) mediated these relationships across space and time. The study draws on a feminist transnational framework and an extended case method approach to understand the emotional dimensions and meanings of care by separated members and the ways the social technologies, and other factors, shaped these transnational spaces and interactions. The study utilizes ethnographic methods (interviews, informants, journals, focus groups, documentary analysis, and informal observations) and both a thematic and narrative analyses to glean patterns across the women’s experiences as well as unique qualities. The themes and narratives of the participants demonstrated that these ICT-mediated interactions contained “conundrums:” 1) ICTs enabled “communication chains” that were essential for women immigrants caring for their families but which did not resolve problems; 2) Transnational family who interacted more regularly and through multiple modalities experienced an “embodied social presence” that made the care, more real, from afar but didn’t resolve emotional tensions inherent in relationships; 3) The existence of ‘hidden emotions” that resulted from the unacknowledged affective work of caring through ICTs; and, 4) the important roles mothers played as agents in their daughter’s migration.